What Not to Say to a Hurricane Victim–Even Six Years Later

As I write, yesterday, August 29, 2011, was the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina’s arrival in our part of the world.

There were a few commemorative activities, but most people wanted to ignore it. If college and NFL football season will get here, it will suit us just fine. We grieve for the folks who caught the brunt of Hurricane Irene over the last week, but we are relieved it avoided us.

It’s called Hurricane Fatigue. We’re tired of hearing about them, dealing with them, reading about them, and worrying about whether we are in the path of the next one.

Someone develop an app that blocks out all references to hurricanes on our nightly news and we’ll buy it.

Write a book about Hurricane Katrina and, even if we buy it to display on a coffee table, do not expect us to read it. Not in this lifetime.

Furthermore, I’m thinking our experience is probably typical. The survivors of Betsy in 1965 and Camille in 1969–and all the more recent editions of these crazy women–probably felt the same way: “If you want to talk about hurricanes, do so. But leave me out of it.”

With that background, here are five comments or “words of wisdom” we suggest you avoid next time you speak with someone who has come through these type storms.

1. So, are you over it yet?

Response: No, and we may never get over it.

2. I think the city looks better now than it did before the hurricane.

Response: That’s because you have a poor memory of what was here before.

3. These things always have a way for working out for the best.

Response: Oh really? Try telling that to the families of the people who drowned.

4. You ought to be grateful for all the federal money the government sent your way.

Response: We are. Money can rebuild a road, restore a bridge or even replace a house. But there are so many hurts money can’t touch.

5. Why don’t you move away from there?

Response: You wouldn’t understand.

These nights the Weather Channel is running a series on people they call “Storm Riders.” I suppose that’s the same as “storm chasers.” The practice seems to have a certain appeal to some people.

You’ll not find any of the veterans of a major hurricane sitting in front of their television drinking in all that drama, I’m betting.

For most of us, once in a lifetime was just about enough.

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